Almost four years have gone by since armed conflict broke out in Syria.

It’s estimated that more than six million Syrians are now living in besieged areas or are internally displaced. That’s almost a third of the country’s pre-war population. Meanwhile, over three million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries and beyond, placing a tremendous burden on host communities.

The ICRC’s head of operations for the Near and Middle East, Robert Mardini, talks to Intercross about the challenges of providing protection and assistance to people in a region where the needs continue to grow each day, as well as what he calls “the new reality” of trying to establish a dialogue with all parties to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, including the Islamic State group.

He also calls on countries like the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Russian Federation to exert their influence to ensure better respect for international humanitarian law (IHL), which he says would help pave the way for sustainable political solutions to these crises.